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Mozart and Automatic Music
a paper by Jan Jaap Haspels
from the book:
Mozart and the Netherlands (p. 113)
This paper with other four in this book (presented here by The Keyboard Bugler) is a paper dedicated to the technique of the keyboard playing and/or to the keyboard repertoire by Mozart.

A special keyboard (?) repertoire: the music for the automatophones
This paper is extremely technical and is certainly fundamental and a must-read for all those keyboard players who are interested in the interpretation of a very particular repertoire: the music written for those mechanical instruments generally called cylinder organ cabinets/clocks.
       Such instruments (in part, real forerunners of modern techniques of recording scores and performances) exerted a great attraction and fascination on the people of the 17th/18th century.
       As Hapsels remembers, already in 1617 the Oxford Robertus de Fluctibus left written such interesting remarks on this peculiar system of music production:
       «... thus it becomes possible to have music without a musician or action of any living being: it will be splendid, graceful and an impressive marvel for those partaking, or in the presence of a festive meal, to hear unexpected music without the presence of a moving being, from some corner of the dining hall...».
       Unfortunately, many automatophones (which once existed in hundreds and hundreds of specimens with thousands of programmed music cylinders) did not survive and so Haspels had to carry on a long and complicated research to reconstruct the original technical structure and the method of working of such instruments, that led many important musicians of that period to write music for these special devices, among them: Handel, Gluck, C.P.E. Bach and obviously... Haydn and Mozart.

Mozart and Haydn, the music for the organ clocks and the good fortune of their music in the branch of the organ cylinders
According to the conclusions of Haspels, it is possible to determine that Haydn wrote music, in general, for organ clocks not particularly complicated in their structure, while Mozart (and for specific reasons seen infra) managed to successfully work on much more complicated machines: we remember here the Fantasy K594 composed by Mozart for the monument of field-marchal Laudon.
       Nonetheless, Haydn himself wrote also some music for more complicated machines, even though not of the level of those for which Mozart wrote. Haydn's fugue for a 29-note organ clock is an interesting case of study. Mozart, instead, seems especially attracted by the grandeur of these types of machines, by their actual capability of substituting the human organists playing grand organs and always chooses the more difficult engines (a sort of primordial Long-Playing devices) and the combinations which allow him to use the greatest possible quantity of notes. If Haydn's most ambitious project reaches 29 notes, Mozart's smallest compass is 35 notes!
       However, the two great masters of music have good reasons of being happy, because, according to the data collected by Haspels, we can say that after 1790 both Haydn's and Mozart's music became extremely popular among the users of organ cylinders and so a great number of transcriptions of their music for mechanical cylinders was suddenly produced for the public and especially in the Netherlands.

Automatic music: a long tradition in Salzburg
An important fact that can help us in understanding the rare ability of Mozart in treating this so special type of music production is that in Salzburg Mozart's father Leopold Mozart and Eberlin had worked on the restoration and the maintenance of the big cylinder organ, known as the Salzburg Bull (main period 1753-1759; it is still working today).
        So Leopold Mozart had a perfect knowledge of how such devices had to be programmed and evidently Wolfgang must have known the technique of cylinder music programming pretty well!
        Only such knowledge led Wolfgang Mozart to ask to work on automatic music for the most complicated machines, that's to say the cylinder organs with a range of at least three chromatic octaves and a playing time of ca. ten minutes!

Leopold Mozart: the Salzburg Bull music automatic programme (1753-1759) as heard today in Salzburg  

An extra-rare fully restored clock with organ built by George Pyke (1766): in the video, towards the end, you can hear the organ clock performing Der Wachtelschlag (i.e. Call of the Quail) written by Haydn for organ clock.
Mozart & Haydn (& Beethoven) music for organ clocks:

Peter King - The Klais Organ of Bath Abbey
Mozart Works for Solo Organ (as transcribed from organ clocks etc.)

Hans-Ola Ericsson - Music for organ clocks:
         Haydn (32 pieces) - Beethoven (8 pieces)
Haydn & Beethoven Organ Works for Flötenuhr

S. & L.M. Jennarelli